The Osprey Jink

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DoD Buzz contributing editor Greg Grant has a great piece running on our sister site about maneuvering restrictions placed on Osprey pilots that could make them more vulnerable to MANPAD encounters in combat.

GAO also said: The V-22 had maneuvering limits that restrict its ability to perform defensive maneuvers. The wording in that sentence sounded odd. Is GAO saying the plane cannot perform defensive maneuvers or is there some regulation against it performing certain maneuvers? Not the same thing.

I asked a Marine officer who is very knowledgeable on the subject of V-22 survivability about the GAOs findings. The officer requested anonymity so as to speak frankly about a politically charged issue and I thought it important to at least present another voice in the Osprey debate.

The officer said the maneuvering limits in the official Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization were set by engineers who did not carry out the full battery of tests on the plane because of money shortages during the operational test phase. The Ospreys troubled developmental history meant the focus was on keeping the plane in the air, not on testing it in battlefield situations.

Read his entire story HERE to see what led to the NATOPS restrictions on radical pitching of the V-22 to lure surface to air missiles into countermeasures and more on why those restrictions were put into place and whether the Osprey can actually endure the maneuvers anyway.

But I also wanted to point out here a great comment that followed the story in the Buzz discussion session.

According to a current V-22 pilot (seems from AFSOC) the critics are full of it:

and lacks the maneuverability to evade hostile ground fire.

Compared to what? A helicopter? A C-130? A fighter? It is none of theseso how can one say it lacks sufficient maneuverability? Ignorance and drinking too much kool-aidthats how.

I have been flying on this aircraft for 5+ years. Before that, I spent 8 years on the MH-53 Pavelow. The CV-22, like the MH-53 is designed (IR and RF countermeasures) to go into anything up a medium threat environment. Very few aircraft go into a high threat environment. Those that do, do it with a gorilla package of support (SEAD, CAP, ect). Further, to my knowledge NO tactical transport aircraft today or ever, go into, intended or otherwise, a high threat environment without lots of support and even then, the threat is usually degraded beforehand.

You take my word for what it is worth

The V-22 or at least the CV-22 is perfectly capable of operating in a medium threat environment. The combination of defensive countermeasures, speed, altitude, noise signature, IR signature and yes, maneuverability makes the aircraft very capable in a combat zone.

Most of these hacks are just repeating what some anti-V-22 lobbiest said to them or some biased report contains. The bottom line here is that this just another effort to cancel the V-22. NEWS FLASHit wont happen.

The USMC has retired over half of its H-46s and is fully invested in the transition to the V-22. USSOCOM is fully behind this aircraft and what it willis bringing the SOF war fighter. Additionally, there is WAY too much support from members of congress, on both sides of the aisle, to keep this program going.

I will agree, however, reliability leaves a lot to be desired. However, I have seen marked improvement over the last 12 months. The issue we are dealing with has to do with partsnot the capability or safety of the aircraft. The biggest issue has been parts that arent supposed to break, breaking. Parts that are supposed to have a 500 hour life breaking at 250 hours and all of this with a VERY immature supply system. The positive side of things here is that he engineers have been very responsive and effective at improving their parts. The aircraft is very capableat least from my USAF/SOF perspective. I will concede however, that if reliability continues to be a problem in the long term, eventually capability will be impacted.

We have put almost 60,000 hours on the V-22 since we returned to flight in 2003. To date the V-22 has been on only 4 combat deployments over the last 20 months. Simply put, we are only in the 1st quarterthere is long way to go.

You all well know I'm a minority supporter of the V-22 for various reasons, not least of which for its superior performance. Most of the critics of the plane have never flown in one -- and have particularly never flown in one in a combat zone under austere conditions. I have.

But don't take my word for it, take the word of AFSOC pilot "Jim" who says the plane is more capable than its helicopter predecessors and that the problems that critics cling to are being worked out as the plane increasingly flies in the hands of combat-veteran pilots throughout the services.

-- Christian

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